Shine On!’s Fifth Annual Conference Introduces New STEM Workshop
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April 16, 2015 Jennifer Gioia, Shine On! Planning Committee
Shine On!’s Fifth Annual Conference Introduces New STEM Workshop
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (April 16, 2015) — Kelly Martin loves coding. Martin, a SUNY Plattsburgh nursing student, takes many computer science courses, where she’s usually the only girl.
Dr. Ken Podolak and Dr. Michael Walters, assistant professors of physics and engineering at SUNY Plattsburgh, have seen a growth in female-to-male ratio in science, technology, engineering and math classrooms.
However, they would like to see further growth.
“STEM needs to be taught, nurtured and workshopped,” Podolak said.
That’s what this year’s Shine On! conference plans to do. The Shine On! Committee will host their fifth annual event that takes place overnight from April 25 to April 26 in Memorial Hall on SUNY Plattsburgh’s campus.
Around 200 third-fifth grade girls will take part in the conference, which strives to equip young girls with the coping skills required to resist the societal pressures they will face in middle school and beyond, leading to more positive behavioral outcomes.
It will feature a series of 10 workshops staying true to Shine On!’s three main themes: communication skills, media/marketing literacy and character strengths.
Martin loved experiencing the “fun transition of her girls from fearful to resilient” as a mentor during Shine On!’s last conference. Her feelings inspired her to lead this year’s new STEM workshop.
The Shine On! Planning Board Committee arranges girls into small groups with college-aged female mentors to support and guide the attendees as they move throughout the conference workshops.
“The girls become so attached they want to sleep next to you at night, and then they don’t want to leave in the morning,” Martin said.
Martin eagerly anticipates her new STEM workshop; “It’s been an idea of mine for a while…and I want the girls to know that STEM can be for them too.”
The STEM workshop, also designed by the SUNY Plattsburgh Physics club and club advisor Dr. Walters, will involve Legos and NXT controllers. The girls will learn how to build and program the robots; learn how to make a sequential order of operations for the robot to perform; and learn what the best way is to program the robot to perform.
“The point is for the girls to understand that the robot is never perfect and to learn to deal with imperfection,” Walters said.
Last year’s conference made Martin become “aware of how younger girls can be put in a box that they have to stay in, and people don’t really see it. In Shine On!, [teaches] girls to be strong women in any field, [to] learn about bullying and how to react or what to do. The girls have so much…to learn.”
Martin thinks the skills Shine On! instills in these young girls really stick; “The girls come back. They wouldn’t come back if they didn’t want to learn more. It’s so important.”
Sponsored by SUNY Plattsburgh, CVPH Foundation, The Development Corporation, Plattsburgh Pediatrics and many others, the Shine On! Conference is free for all registered girls.
This year’s conference workshops focusing on the three main themes are:
I. Communication Skills:
- Communication Tools and Tips about Social Media Etiquette presented by the SUNY Plattsburgh Improv Troupe.
When girls are teased or bullied, they may not have the words to stand up for themselves. This interactive workshop gives girls the skills and talking points to stand up for themselves and others in a non-confrontational way. Attendees and their mentors will discuss and role-play different scenarios about issues like bullying and peer pressure through social media. They will learn to be an upstander, not a bystander.
- Diversity presented by SUNY Plattsburgh Adjunct Lecturers Butterfly Blaise and Jada Secone.
This workshop focuses on recognizing what can be hurtful to others. The girls will also pledge to be “anti-mean.”
II. Media/Marketing Literacy:
- Magazine presented by founding member of Shine On! and SUNY Plattsburgh alumna, Chyresse Wells.
Flipping through the pages of a magazine may leave girls feeling lousy about themselves. These photoshopped images can leave girls feeling insecure. This workshop will show girls that the pictures in the magazines aren’t real, and marketers intend for consumers to buy products rather than feel beautiful in their own skin.
- MissRepresentation presented by Health Educator and Shine On! Outreach Coordinator Rhema Lewis.
Women are often shown on TV, in movies or in commercials more for their looks or bodies, than their talents. Why are women in bikinis used in advertisements to sell trucks? This workshop will help girls better understand the media, marketing and how society sets unrealistic expectations for females.
III. Character Strengths:
- Character Strengths presented by fourth-grade teacher, Michelle Gottschall.
Shine On! will expose girls to the skills needed to overcome obstacles and be successful by introducing them to seven character strengths: grit, zest, optimism, willpower, gratitude, social intelligence and curiosity.
- STEM presented by veteran mentor & nursing student, Kelly Martin, and the SUNY Plattsburgh Physics Club.
This workshop will convey the message that young girls can become involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, showing that these fields are both fun and important.
Shine On! will also focus on the well-being of the girls with the following workshops:
- Rock Your Confidence presented by SUNY Plattsburgh student Dorian Yablin and women of the Expeditionary Studies program.
Girls will learn how trying something scary is the first step to success and building a strong self. Through fun activities, such as rock climbing, girls will learn interactive skills to develop confidence in themselves.
- Self-Defense with David Boise from Villari’s Self Defense Center in downtown Plattsburgh.
This workshop will give girls information and tips on safety to help prevent feelings of nervousness, fear and helplessness.
- Healthy Eating presented by women of the SUNY Plattsburgh Health and Nutrition program.
Sometimes parents and girls alike find that fast food is the only answer at the end of a hectic day. Having a bad day at school could have girls reaching for chocolate. This workshop aims to educate about healthier food choices and to help girls better understand the impact of their choices. They will walk away with healthy ideas that taste great.
- Water Zumba with certified lifeguards Sarah Abbate and Haley Miller.
The pool hour provides time for girls to have fun with their new friends and let loose.
Other activities include:
Night Yoga presented by registered yoga instructor, Berlin Krabs.
After a long day of fun and enlightening workshops, the girls will learn how to manage stress and stay healthy through yoga.
Wake-Up Dance Party presented by certified dance instructor, Ariel Monserrate.
Shine On! will celebrate the completion of the conference with a fun wake-up dance party to show off both girls’ and parents’ moves with some confidence and zest.
For more information, contact SUNY Plattsburgh Associate Professor and Shine On! Founder Colleen Lemza at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit shingongirl.org or receive updates on Facebook at facebook.com/shineongirls; Twitter @shineongirls; and Instagram @shineon_girls.